Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Things I did today

- cut and paste stuff to prep for a Properties of Addition activity that will occur in the following two days

- update grade reporting for mid-quarter progress reports

- edit RTI plan and email to admin as well as participating teachers

- type up Homework ER schedule

- reassure the SDC teachers and aides that it's no bother (although it kinda is, and they know that too, but they are just doing their jobs, as am I)

- bring two students who were sitting at Fs back up to Bs by making them do all of their absent work, and having them do the tests they missed. ABSENCES MATTER!!!

- messed up on teaching my Algebra 1 kids...but they ended up figuring stuff out by themselves, which is what I expect them to do, which is AWESOME

- skipped lunch. Again. Starving. Ate an entire salmon when I came home

- grading, grading, grading

- planning, planning, planning

- finally got my lesson binders organized, after a month of dishevelment and loose papers flying everywhere

- made a list of students who scored at 3 or below on their 7th grade CST...


Seriously, I can live at school for all the work I need to do. Has it already been a month of school? Thank goodness the first pay check is approaching at the end of this week. Thing I will do for myself once I get said pay check:

Buy my plane ticket to HK for Christmas. Oh yes.

Friday, September 23, 2011

In on the ground floor, part 2

Pretty amazing week of ideas, idea sharing, and implementing some new things at my school. All thanks to the legislation called RTI!

The very first thing the 8th grade math team is starting is "Homework ER," which, essentially is homework detention for students who habitually don't turn in their homework - as defined by 3 or more assignments missing within two weeks. I already have a list of students who fall in this category, and thus will receive this intervention.

The entire plan for the 8th grade math team, including Homework ER is still very experimental (ER - as in Emergency Room, although the one time I was actually in an emergency room, this acronym was used for something else, so we might be perpetuating a common mis-nomer....). It may or may not get the results we want. But Homework ER is supposed to be structured in a way that gets students to do what they are supposed to do. It's to change their behavior, which will change their experience, which will change their attitudes - or so goes Gardner's theory. More updates to come. The first Homework ER is in October.

But besides that, I do want to change up a whole bunch of things about my own instruction. It's mind-boggling to think about right now - so I'm only handling it one piece at a time. Still very excited about what will happen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ducks in a row

Positive things that happened today:

- Grievances Boy came in for after-school tutoring today. He got all his math and most of his history homework done. He was not surly, nor rude, nor disrespectful. I had fun looking up the Bill of Rights for him on my teacher computer. This kid has deep-seated emotional and social issues that are way too low-brow for his intellect. He is my first tutor candidate for the year - note to self: get pre-tests made for Grievances Boy.

- I was asked last minute to attend a 2-day conference in Santa Clara. Soooooo glad I typically plan ahead anyway, or else sub plans would have been chaos. Also glad that tomorrow is a minimum day, and Algebra 1 is only taking a quiz. And Algebra Readiness is still doing easy-peasy things so no matter if the sub lied and said they can do math when they really can't, most of my kids will understand the material anyway. And the ones that don't will either ask their buddies in class or their case workers in resource

I'm kind of looking forward to the conference. I had no idea what it was going to be about when the math coach pleaded for me to go (Dept. Chair #1 refused to go, and the district had already paid for it). It sounds exactly like something up my alley - equity, accessibility, intervention, prevention, and all sorts of good stuff like that.

- I was WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY more consistent with behavior management today. I've been so excited with the start of school - and to be honest, I've been relying too much on my enthusiasm and cheerfulness to get through the day (which is good because it's positive and the kids get enthusiastic too, but bad because I get WIPED OUT and sometimes the kids get a smidge TOO excited). There is still structure, there is still calm, and I can still get everyone's attention within seconds of a consistently given and reinforced signal. Consistency = the first layer of my classroom management "to work on" list.

But really, I am so excited with this year's crop of kids. They are unbelievably positive, they try so hard, they have a lot of school spirit, and their basic math skills are much more solid than I expected. Already in the first 3 weeks, I've seen my AR kids grow a LOT. It's awesome.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paradigm shift

Happy candy for happy thoughts.

I read a lot of blogs. Probably less than others, but still a decent amount. I love blogs. I have/had a blog at some point in time with most of the major blogging platforms (i.e. livejournal, xanga, blogspot, wordpress, tumblr, twitter).

Funny thing is, I rarely follow education blogs.

Fashion, definitely. Food, yep. Tech, of course. Animals, hands down. Art, sure. Architecture, yes.

Education, not so much.

I do pop in with the education blog-o-sphere every so often, but it's not nearly as much as the others. Weirdly enough, I blog the most at TCLB - way more than my other current blogs (although, still not as much as others).


I can think of one reason right now: we are a bunch of negative souls who whine and complain - albeit in a sarcastic way, but still. Very negative indeed. I've been told outright by a good friend (so I know she has my best intentions at heart) that I come across as very negative on this blog.

I don't mean to. But I do.

So my blogging goal for this year is to only write about positive things. Things I can be happy and excited about. In short, it's the tone of voice found in a lot of fashion/food/tech blogs.

Now, I don't mean to be unrealistic. Because there are a lot of unhappy things going on in education today. But there are also lots of AWESOME things going on as well. There are lots of stories - heroic stories - of teachers and students and people working their butts off AND getting the results they hoped for, if not more. I'm going to be a voice for that. There's enough negativity on the planet without me adding to it.

It starts today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"There's the best, the middle, the worst, and then the OH-MY-GOD-YOU'RE-STUPID"

This is most interesting.

This week in bullets

  • Department Chair 1 calls them "ping pong" kids, Department Chair 2 calls them "boomerang kids." I call it "Ms. Ng's Headache Machine." The Admin - in their grand and almighty wisdom, and without any advice from actual math teachers - have decided to rearrange the placements of 20-odd 7th and 8th grade students, redistributing them among the Algebra Readiness, and Algebra 1 classes. Most of my time and energy this week have been taken up with keeping track of who is in my classroom and who is not. It is no fun. Thus, I volunteered myself to make sure these seemingly random schedule changes get minimized for next year.
  • BSTA coach keeps telling me to pre-test my AR students who have behavior or academic issues already - and then offer them alternative assignments if they pass the pre-test. I'll do it, but give me some time lady! Planning, preparing, and implementing that activity won't happen overnight. It won't even happen within a week. But it will happen. So chill out.
  • I spent five minutes trying to decide whether to get the super big post-it notes or the 3in. x 3in. post-its that I normally use. I just stood there, staring at them stupidly until a store clerk came up to me and asked if he could help. I replied, "Only if you can somehow make each day 30 hours instead of 24."
  • Bought myself the most comfortable pair of shoes for teaching. Why are they so comfy? Because I splurged $30 on them instead of limiting myself to less than $15 like normal.
  • Can someone show me how to either grade more efficiently OR create fewer things to grade? I would really like some practical tips.
  • It is an everlastingly long time between my last paycheck of the previous year (June) and the first paycheck of this year (October).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Would you care about this moth in a baggie?

What Kids Need Most: A Culture of Caring by Scott Carol

Why does our culture not care? How do we get people to care? Why is it necessary for someone else to "get" a person to care? How does a person begin to care for themselves, by themselves?

Tom Brokaw said something to this effect recently: We have 2% of the population fighting our wars for us. We demand so much from them, and they rise up to the challenge beautifully. But we don't demand enough out of the other 98% of us.

How does one demand proper parenting from the families of students? What are their rewards? Consequences? Well, I guess the consequences include a society that doesn't care. But then, what happens when people don't care about the consequences either?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Second week of school drawing to a close. So many things to think about, but only two at the top of my head right now:

1. With the exception of the first day of school, I've been able to pull myself away from my classroom by 4:30 PM each afternoon. That said, I still get to campus by 6:30 AM at the very latest. Last week, I got to school at 6 AM...and set off the security alarm. The plant manager officially hates me now.

2. I've been pretty unreliable concerning grading so far this year. Got stacks and stacks of it piled up. I don't remember it being this backed up this time last year. But then, last year, I stayed at school until 6 or 7 PM most days. And I still got there at 6:30 AM.

Two main lessons so far: haters gonna hate, and why do today what I can put off for tomorrow?

But really, other than the stress that each of the above provides in over-abundance, this year is looking pretty good.

Oh wait, I forgot. My students have no decision making skills whatsoever. Even the brighter ones are constantly asking needy, repetitive questions again and again. It's as if they have never been allowed to think for themselves in their entire lives.

Which, when I think about it, they probably haven't.